Tripping Back to the Andes

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Andean Tit-Spinetail

I suppose it’s only fitting I started writing this post today while the outside temperature in Chicago (55 deg. F.) was just two degrees cooler than Quito. We won’t stay here long, though. By tomorrow morning we will have dropped back into the 20’s F.

Birders 11-20-2017-0966We weren’t all that warm up in the higher elevations as the above picture indicates. In any event there was a lot to look at and these pictures are from our first day trek through the mountains from Quito to Guango Lodge.

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Masked Mountain-Tanager

Tanagers proved to be challenging subjects, often too far away to even try for. I think I’ve been spoiled by other trips where invariably some species came to feeders. But I am happy for the pictures I did get, which were without human enticement of any kind.

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Summer Tanager, a species that migrates to North America

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Scrub Tanager

There will be more tanager species to come in future posts. Below, flowers and a fungus that appeared to branch out with its own petals.

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We were fortunate to find these Rufous-Bellied Seedsnipe not far from the guard station. A somewhat elusive species, they blend in perfectly with the ground.

Below on the left is a Pale-naped Brushfinch, a bird we saw only in this habitat. The Orange-bellied Euphonia on the right was at various other elevations but I continually struggled to get a halfway decent photo of the male.

The Giant Conebill below seems like it’s worthy of a better name, it’s really quite striking.

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Tufted Tit-Tyrant

Below are two species of Flowerpiercers. We did eventually see all six species on the list. The one on the left, the Masked Flowerpiercer, was common and quite a willing subject at Guango Lodge. The Black Flowerpiercer on the right was a little harder to capture.

Whenever we found a river we were looking for the White-capped Dipper below and we got lucky the first day.

White-capped Dipper 11-20-2017-9227Also hanging out by the river was the Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant below.

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Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant

Eared Doves were most common but they rarely posed in good light. This one struck a fortunate pose.

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Eared Dove

A sign and a vista that caught my eye…

When we got down to Guango, we went for a little walk around the property and found one of the Mountain Tapirs that have been seen lately. Our guide Mitch declared her a youngster. We found her adorable.

I’ll be back soon with more magic from Ecuador.

Humming into 2018

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Bronzy Inca

Happy New Year. Here we are, 2018, we made it out of 2017. I made bread last night and I’m making quinoa pumpkin soup today. Some things never change. Beyond that, almost all my resolutions are on ice until I feel like I’ve thawed out enough. I’ve had my long underwear on all day to deal with the sub-zero wind chills every time I visit the backyard. Perhaps due to the severe cold, it’s been a fairly relaxing weekend, mostly indoors, with time to revisit the pictures from Ecuador, and when reflection or identification becomes too cumbersome, I happily doze off under the comforter.

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Sword-billed Hummingbird

I’ve decided to devote this post to some hummingbirds seen on the trip. The Chestnut-breasted Coronets were everywhere and often bullies at the feeders, which made it easy to try to ignore them, but on the other hand they made themselves available for a lot of pictures, so I obliged.

The Fawn-Breasted Brilliants were not so easy to intimidate, like the one in the top left picture of the mosaic above.

I had almost forgotten the Buff-tailed Coronets but was happy to find pictures of them from the beginning of the trip, several of which are below.

Collared Incas were common and holding up their own at the feeders too.

The White-Bellied Woodstar is just plain cute, and I think he knows it.

The female of the species is charming as well.

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Female White-Bellied Woodstar

Not all the hummers were at feeders, like the next three below.

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Viridian Metaltail

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Shining Sunbeam, not so shining in the rain

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Sparkling Violetear

I love the Speckled Hummingbird too. Its facial markings make it easy to recognize.

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Speckled Hummingbird

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I can’t figure this guy out unless it’s a Long-tailed Sylph without the long tail.

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Black-tailed Trainbearer

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Buff-tailed Coronet

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Two Buff-tailed Coronets getting feisty

Two more feeder shots with a nice flower that was also hard to ignore.

More colorful photographs from Ecuador to come. This is turning into the perfect antidote to a harsh winter.

Flowers 11-21-2017-0152I hope you are safe and warm wherever you are and may your year be off to a good start.

Home At Last

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Chestnut-Breasted Coronet

I’ve been home in body for almost three weeks, but my soul remains in Ecuador.Paramo 11-19-17-0434Paramo 11-19-17-0437

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Cotopaxi Volcano

Coming back to a busy work schedule, holiday pressures, choir commitments has made it challenging to get through the photographs. I still have to ferret out most of the bird pictures, although I have been reviewing them every chance I get to put up on Field Guides’ webpage, since I feel an obligation to the group as I was the primary picture-taker. On top of that pressure is the reality that it takes twice as long to process the pictures on my newer MacBook Pro, designated the “travel laptop,” which is where the bulk of the pictures reside. We’ll be visiting those pictures soon, I hope. In the meantime, here is a sampling of what I downloaded to my older laptop after I got home.

 

Paramo 11-19-17-0422The irresistible landscape is part of Cayambe-Coca National Park, which we visited on our way from Quito to our first night’s stay at Guango Lodge in Papallacta. Guango was the magical place I stayed at for one night last year on the way down to the Amazon.

I could easily return to this part of the world just to explore the plant life.

Paramo 11-19-17-0461In this quick post I am adding a few bird photos of species we saw practically every day. Below on the left is a Speckled Hummingbird.

Not a hummingbird, but an irresistible flycatcher, the Cinnamon Flycatcher was also on the list almost every day.

Below is a tiny leaf-colored insect on a large leaf to give you an idea of scale, and a closer crop of the creature itself.

More amazing plant life from the paramo and montane cloud forest. According to Wikipedia there are over 100 species of endemic plants here.

A couple more hummer photos…

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Chestnut-Breasted Coronet

 

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Fawn-Breasted Brilliant

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Bronzy Inca

Below, a Chestnut-Breasted Coronet emerging from the flowers.Chestnut-Breasted Coronet 11-21-17-0501And a Fawn-Breasted Brilliant, Chestnut-Breasted Coronet and a mystery bird with its back to us at the feeder.3 Hummers 11-21-17-0473I will be back soon, the three-day weekend will offer more time to get caught up here and try to visit everyone else’s blogs I have not managed to see. I wish you all a joyous and peaceful holiday.

 

Recycling the Unattached

Some of my original Zebra Finches from years past (the cleaner pot rack alone dates the photo)

I’m almost totally over the rhino-plus virus, well enough to get through what seemed like endless commitments. Now as my mind clears along with my sinuses, I am feeling remiss in keeping up with this commitment, so when I remembered this morning there is always an opportunity to fall back on those “Unattached” photographs that clog up my media library, I decided to select a few at random just for fun. A couple from the Galapagos, not so long ago, which reminds me I still have a couple days left from my trip I never covered…

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Yellow Warbler – Galapagos – July 2016

 

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Magnificent Frigatebird, Galapagos, July 2016

The three below are from a trip to East Africa in 2013.

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Gray-Crowned Cranes, November, 2013, Tanzaniya

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Burchell’s Zebra, November 2013

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Pearl-Spotted Owlet, November 2013

The sunset below probably happened in Belize at Crooked Tree in March of 2014…I’ll be back with more recent endeavors soon.. Thanks for following my meanderings. I hope you enjoyed this little blast from the past.

A Little Panama, a Little Protest

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Great Jacamar

I stayed home last night instead of going swimming because I just didn’t feel like going out in the weather again. It was chilly, rainy and windy all day and after a busy weekend it felt like a stay-at-home-with-the-birds night, providing me enough mental energy for combing through the Panama Pictures.

It wasn’t always easy to find the birds…when I was taking the pictures, or going through the pictures later. Like this Bay Wren below.

Or this American Pygmy Kingfisher.

Some were a bit more obliging, like the White-Whiskered Puffbirds below. Male on the left, female on the right.

Or the Scarlet-Rumped Cacique that took forever to finally turn around and show me the field mark it was named for. I’m rather enamored of its blue-ringed eyes.

Just as I almost got the White-Tailed Trogon in focus, it left.

Woodcreepers are unique, and the Black-Striped Woodcreeper below is particularly so.

This Rufous Mourner didn’t appear very mournful to me; I think it must be named after its song.

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Rufous Mourner

Below is a somewhat distant Masked Tityra.

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Masked Tityra

Another beautiful skulker below, a Chestnut-Backed Antbird. When I see an antbird I always feel like a Peeping Tom.

Mealy Parrots are fairly common in Central and South America, but I find them beautiful and wish they had a more attractive name.

Below, one of many Mantled Howler Monkeys that were hard to fit into a picture.

Mantled Howler Monkey 3-14-17-2280I know, I promised you Protest, so here we go with a series of some shots from the Science March in Chicago on April 22nd.

I think I’ll spread the Science March photos out over a few posts – likely marches will be ongoing all spring/summer/dare I say all year? and we’ll stay in the mood.

There’s a spring bird count to do on Saturday morning, choir on Sunday, and if it ever stops raining, the garden beckons. Stay tuned for more from Panama, spring migration, etc. Thanks for your visit!

Back to Panama, Day 1 continued

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Orange-Chinned Parakeet

More birds from the first full day of a short but colorful trip. It’s always a delight to see parrots and parakeets, after you’ve managed to distinguish them from the leaves of the trees into which they blend so well. Orange-Chinned Parakeets were our most common psittacine species.

The picture below is as close as I got to the tiny spec of “orange chin” this bird is named for. I’ve come to the conclusion you can only “see” it in the field guide illustrations.

Orange Chin of the Orange-Chinned Parakeet 3-13-17-1564Below is a Yellow-Tailed Oriole. I saw a lot of different Orioles all at once years ago in Belize and got terribly confused. Luckily this was the only Oriole we had to worry about except for the Baltimore Oriole which we shall see shortly in spring migration in the United States, with many staying to breed throughout the summer.

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Yellow-Tailed Oriole

Later in the day we visited some wetlands and caught glimpses of the juvenile Rufescent Tiger-Heron on the left and its parents on the right.

Also present in the wet areas were Northern Jacanas like the one below.

I think I have never seen a Greater Ani before, only Groove-Billed and Smooth-Billed. I was surprised to see the scalloped blue edges on its feathers.

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Greater Ani

We had some raptors too. The Gray-Lined Hawk below is a new species for me. What a gorgeous creature.

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Gray-Lined Hawk

I’ve seen Zone-Tailed Hawks before, but never really gotten such a detailed view of their feather patterns underneath.

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Zone-Tailed Hawk

The Black Vulture below is feather-challenged but still elegant in flight. Black Vultures outnumbered every other kind so you will be seeing more pictures of them.

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Black Vulture

I couldn’t resist throwing in a few more pictures of a Plain-Colored Tanager. I’m sure he was pleased I paid so much attention to him.

This Black-Headed Saltator isn’t living up to its name. If it weren’t for the overall shape of the bird and the white eyebrow I would still be trying to figure out who it was.

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Black-Headed Saltator

We saw a lot of Yellow Warblers, and there have been a few reported to have made their way to the Midwest in the U.S. already.

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Yellow Warbler

This is not my greatest picture of a Rufous-Tailed Hummingbird but I like the branch it’s on.

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Rufous-Tailed Hummingbird

Red-Lored Parrots were seen a few times too. This bird seems to be feeding on something here. Looks crunchy, what fun.

There was a Three-Toed Sloth in a tree close to the tower we stayed in. It blended in well but luckily was exposed enough for a photograph.

Three-Toed Sloth 3-13-17-1424It’s been a busy week, with the March for Science last Saturday, then Choir Sunday at Unity Temple, work, upcoming rehearsal and participation in the Spring Music Festival at Unity Temple-United Lutheran which my friend Linda and I attended last year but this year we are performing Schubert’s Sonatina for Flute and Piano. I managed to get in a swim last night but the rest of the week is clamoring for attention. I’ll be back with more birds from Panama as soon as I can.

Happy Spring!

Where to Start? The Panama Pictures

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Keel-Billed Toucan

Finally getting around to those Panama Pictures! Life keeps getting in the way, and of course with spring migration just starting there have been other distractions. But I keep thinking there’s a better solution to my madness somewhere. Maybe that’s what keeps me going. The madness, I mean. If I find the solution, it might all come to a halt.

Ah the Tanagers. Above, probably one of the most common we saw, the Crimson-Backed Tanager, with the male lower left and the female on the right, showing her crimson back. Lucky for me there were only a few possibilities to worry about. The tanagers in some places, especially if they are traveling in a flock, can be confounding.

From gaudy to drab – below, the Plain-Colored Tanager on the left and the Palm Tanager on the right. But I think they have their own subtle beauty.

And below, a White-Shouldered Tanager and the ubiquitous Blue-Gray Tanager which always makes me have to decide whether to spell it Gray or Grey.

All these photos were from the first full day of the trip. Which means there are more days to come (and for me, more pictures to process). We did not travel far from either lodging location, spending four nights at the Canopy Tower and another two nights at the Canopy Lodge in El Valle, the days and locales having blended into a continuum in my head by now, so I won’t have a lot of commentary to contribute. Now that I’ve decided to leave the monster lens at home next time I travel, maybe my dream companion would be a scribe instead of a sherpa.

Both locations had feeders which made it easier to see some of the birds, particularly hummingbirds. White-Necked Jacobins dominated the feeders but you don’t always see the white neck they were named for, so there it is in the picture below. The hummingbird on the lower right is a White-Vented Plumeleteer. Unfortunately the white vent isn’t very easily distinguishable but I like the illumination on the throat.

Elusive antbirds are always a challenge to see. We got lucky with the two below. A Fasciated Antshrike and a Dot-Winged Antwren.

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Black-Crowned Antshrike

The two puffbirds below look almost identical except on very close inspection, which likely kept me poring over the field guide for several minutes. On the left is the Pied Puffbird which I saw last year in the Amazon in Ecuador, and on the right, Black-Breasted Puffbird.

Two flycatchers, the Black-Headed Tody Flycatcher, which is a new one for me, and the Dusky-Capped Flycatcher.

Below is a Streaked Flycatcher, not usually seen from the back, but after 20 or more shots he still wouldn’t turn around so I gave up.

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Streaked Flycatcher

The Rusty-Margined Flycatcher below can be confused with Greater Kiskadee, Social Flycatcher, until you get the hang of telling them apart.

Back to the elusive with a fairly common but hard-to-get-a-good-photo Squirrel Cuckoo. The picture on the lower right gives you more of an idea of how far away it was.

Green Honeycreepers below.

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Green Honeycreeper

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Green Honeycreeper Female

Below, a Red-Legged Honeycreeper is the bright blue guy, and the green bird is a Blue Dacnis female.  I’m starting to get these guys confused!

Below, a Pale-Vented Pigeon and a Gray-Headed Chachalaca. Click on the pictures if you want a better view, especially of pigeon colors. I love this pigeon. You will see it again in a later post.

Two more for the trying-to-be-elusive list. Cocoa Woodcreeper on the left and Cinnamon Woodpecker on the right.

There’s a lot more but I think I better give us all a break. Which means I can be back that much sooner! Thanks for stopping by!

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Night Monkey